The late Dr. Robert N. Butler wrote the book The Longevity Revolution published in 2008. For years he heralded the message that longevity in the United States had increased by 30 years in the 20th century -- greater than the gain during the preceding 5,000 years in human history -- and that this was creating profound changes in every aspect of society and our communities. The magnitude of these profound demographic changes also led the World Health Organization to establish a global network to foster the exchange of experience and mutual learning between cities and communities worldwide.
As the demographically oldest state in the U.S, the importance of fostering such exchange of experience and mutual learning was not lost on the leaders of the Age-Friendly Movement in Florida. In the fall of 2016, Age-Friendly Sarasota (the first community in Florida to join the World Health Organization’s Global Network and AARP’s National Network of Age-Friendly Communities) hosted age-friendly communities throughout the state in a Sharing Symposium supported by The Patterson Foundation. Partnering with AARP Florida, connecting, learning, and sharing took center stage at the 2-day event. Select sessions included Weaving Age-Friendly into the Fabric of Your Community, Sharing Promising Practices, and Together Co-creating an Age-Friendly Florida.
Synergy flowed as each community shared their own goals, accomplishments, and challenges. There are now 14 Florida communities designated as Age-Friendly with more to come and over 380 worldwide communities located in 37 countries. Most importantly, a new Age-Friendly Florida Network emerged under the coordination and support of AARP Florida -- setting a model for the rest of the country. Collectively our communities are now becoming part of the solution, pioneering new ways to address the challenges ahead. We are building upon our communities’ assets and aspirations to optimize active, healthy, and engaged living for all ages. As communities and individuals, in the self-declared epicenter of an aging world, we can have lasting positive influence and impact on the longevity revolution as we take responsibility and action for shaping our common future.